Updates from the Branch

  • To mark this year's Europe Day, we spoke with people around the country about why - despite Brexit - they are still European.

    Sally, a European Movement member, took time out to speak to us about why she believes that the UK will one day return to its place at the heart of Europe.

    "When my mother fled to the UK from Germany," Sally told us, "she was welcomed and given the opportunity to build a life here. She took this country into her heart, starting a family and giving decades of service to the NHS.

    "There are so many more stories like mine, of families, relationships and careers that have been able to flourish thanks to the openness between Britain and the rest of Europe. We can't and won't let Brexit take all this away from us. I believe in taking down walls, not putting them up.

    "I know there are hundreds of thousands more people, up and down the country, who still hold strong to European values and believe in friendship and cooperation across borders."

    Watch her story here:

    Another one of those stories is the story of Gui and Leo, two Portuguese citizens living in the UK, who had to overcome the difficulties and fears of Brexit to be together.

    "I thought it was really a more progressive country and open," said Gui, "and Brexit made me think it's more closed. If we have a family and our kids want to move or study abroad, then this is something we will really have to think about."

    "It made me think that maybe we are not welcome here," Leo added, "We want to keep dreaming."

    "It's insane, how many cultures you have here in the UK. What European Movement is doing is really important for British and European society."

    Watch their story in full here:

    So this Europe Day, let's celebrate our European identity together.

    If you have a European Movement pin badge, wear it proudly. Share why you're #StillEuropean on social media, or by starting a conversation with people you meet today.

  • published YEM event in News from European Movement UK 2023-04-27 16:21:56 +0100

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  • published Security & Migration in Brexit Briefings 2023-02-10 13:15:56 +0000

    'Taking back control of our borders’ was one of the main slogans of the Vote Leave campaign, which told its supporters that immigration would go down.

    That has not happened – immigration from the EU has gone down but overall immigration has not. Despite that, there are still labour shortages in key areas – including the NHS - where EU workers had previously filled gaps.

    Neither has Brexit led to a reduction in irregular migration, notably across the Channel. Indeed, by removing the UK from the EU’s ‘Dublin Regulation’, it has made it more difficult to return asylum seekers to EU countries where they first arrived, for their claims to be processed there.

    The UK is not part of European schemes – it opted out of these even before Brexit - to encourage the migration of skilled people or to provide legal routes to resettle people from war-torn parts of the world. If there are no legal routes, desperate people will try other means.

    The UK receives – and always has received - relatively few asylum claims compared to many EU countries: in 2021, EU countries overall received about double the number of applications per capita as the UK. In 2020, when compared with EU countries, the UK ranked 14th in terms of the number of asylum applications per capita.

    Brexit has also made it more difficult to work and exchange crime and justice information with authorities in EU countries, notably to prevent known criminals from entering the UK. In particular, UK border authorities no longer have instant access to the full data held by authorities in the EU. The UK is no longer a member of the EU’s crime-fighting body Europol.

    The UK is now also outside the European Arrest Warrant scheme, which means it is now more difficult to extradite to the UK from Europe people who have committed serious offences in the UK. In the past, the EAW enabled the arrest of, for example, terrorists who had plotted explosions in London in 2005. Between 2009 and 2014, 63 suspects for child sex offences, 27 for rape and 44 for murder were extradited back to Britain to face charges.

    All this means Brexit has left the UK more vulnerable to organised crime, including terrorism, major financial crime and people trafficking.

    Over 630 000 people applied for asylum in the EU (about 14 per ten thousand of population) compared to under 50 000 in the UK (about 7.5 per ten thousand of population) – source UN. 

  • published The Retained EU Law Bill in Brexit Briefings 2023-02-10 13:11:56 +0000

    Retained EU Law Bill 

    Democrats need to be vigilant about talk of ‘Brexit opportunities’ and especially the Retained EU Law Bill tabled on 22 September 2022 and passed by 280 votes to 225 at its second reading on 25 October.  

    This Bill and a series of related measures to remove or weaken protections provided by EU law looks like cover for stripping away democratic rights and high EU standards for food and other products, as well as employment, environmental, health and consumer protection. For example, holiday and sick pay, parental leave, pension guarantees and safe limits on working time could be scrapped by Ministers using ‘secondary legislation’, i.e. without full debate in the Commons. Such protections could even just disappear from the statute book overnight, without any debate, as a result of an irresponsible ‘sunset clause’ set for the end of 2023.  

    This is a bonfire of laws that work, to replace them either with a vacuum or with laws that make life worse.  TUC leader Frances O’Grady has said: “If this bill becomes law, vital protections could disappear overnight.” 

    This process is also set to: 

    • waste vast civil service time, with Britain in the worst economic crisis in decades; 
    • create chaos in courts and employment tribunals, as long-established case law is invalidated; 
    • cause massive uncertainty for businesses; 
    • create additional trade barriers with the EU, by weakening UK regulation so that products for the UK market may not meet standards needed for export to the EU; 
    • potentially provoke a trade war with the EU, by breaking the level playing field clauses in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement, intended to prevent a deregulatory race to the bottom; 
    • fail to respect the rights of the devolved nations to legislate for their jurisdictions. 

    Many argue that the government will have no choice but to accept amendments watering down the Bill – for example by extending the sunset clause to 2026 – given the intense criticism from business, trade unions, consumer organisations, environmentalists and apolitical mass movements like the National Trust and Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.  

    But simply removing the worst aspects of this Bill would not end the Brexit government’s dangerous overall agenda of doctrinaire deregulation and divergence from tried and tested EU law.  

    A ream of other legislation is in the pipeline, on areas such as data protection, financial services, public procurement and many more. All of it will need to be scrutinised and fiercely opposed in any areas where it poses risks to individual rights, the economy or the environment.  

    The government has not identified any significant, credible opportunities from Brexit. Jacob-Rees Mogg’s nine-point list - he obviously couldn’t find a tenth – was ridiculed even by many on his own side. For example, his proposal to allow energy inefficient vacuum cleaners in the UK was a charter for manufacturers to dump stocks of obsolete goods that they are no longer allowed to sell in the EU and that they are not interested in making, or making parts for, in the future.  

    Despite a biased consultation, businesses and consumer organisations have given an emphatic thumbs down to the government’s nostalgia-fuelled idea of allowing products to be labelled solely in old imperial measures. Imperial measures were already used perfectly legally alongside metric ones when the UK was in the EU. Many younger Brits do not even understand imperial measures. Their sole use would prevent products from being exported and inhibit trade. 

    But the fanatically deregulatory government is interested only in empty Brexiteer gesture politics rather than real opportunities that would bring genuine benefits.

  • On Saturday 4th February, 37 local groups across the country took part in the Retained EU Law Bill Action Day. This was a crucial next step in the campaign to ‘Save our Standards’.  

    From Leeds to Lancaster, local groups handed out over 20,000 leaflets, managed to raise our petition to almost 40,000 signatures, and spoke to over 2,000 people about the dangers of the Retained EU Law Bill. An outstanding result from our network of activists.  

    I want to say a big thank you to everyone who helped at the weekend to raise awareness about the dangers of the bill. 

    The overall message we heard from the Retained EU Law Action Day was that public opinion is shifting, and EMUK would love to share some positive interactions that took place throughout the day.  

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  • Today marks three years since the UK withdrew from the European Union. Remember these?

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  • The mission of the European Movement is to campaign step by step towards rejoining the EU. We’re looking for a dynamic and committed person to lead our organisation –the largest cross-party, pro-European membership organisation in the UK, with 200,000 supporters, over 100 branches, and more than 16,000 members.

    The successful candidate, to be chosen by the EMUK membership in a secret ballot, will be expected to front our step-by-step campaign towards rejoining the EU and help grow our membership and reach in a watershed period for UK relations with Europe.

    They will take on both a public-facing role representing the EM effectively in the media and on platforms and taking responsibility for the Movement’s internal governance and strategy.  EM is committed to equality and would welcome candidates from diverse backgrounds. 

    For more details about the role, which is to be undertaken without remuneration, please contact: Emma Knaggs ([email protected]). The closing date for nominations is Monday 13th February.

    See here for the full job description.